Book Funsies, Book Reviews

Author Spotlight: Katryn Bury

Hello wonderful readerinos! Today we have a virtual sit down with Katryn! (Technically this sit down happened a few months ago on a drive back to the Bay Area from Disneyland, but that’s beside the point).

Katryn’s a 2022 debut middle grade novelist, who’s first released came out yesterday, March 1st. Her book, Drew Leclair Get’s a Clue, is about a 12 year old murderino, who attempts to solve the crimes at her school via the techniques learned from her Criminal Profiling hero. She navigates the ups and downs of real life (such as your mom running away to live in a yurt with your guidance counselor) by going into her profiling place. It’s such a fun and hilarious read for all ages! But would especially be loved by the young mystery lover in your life.

I’ll have a longer review of Drew later, but thank you Kate for sitting down with me to answer some questions about writing this novel, and what brought you here!

What inspired you to start writing, and what was the first story you wrote?

Um, I’ve been writing stories since I was very little. First story was written a the age of 6 and was called Amy and the Stolen Pumpkin. I wrote my first full length novel at the age of 12. One reason I kept writing was because I felt like I had run out of things to read, so I wrote more so I could read more.

What is the hardest part of the writing process for you?

Drafting. The reason is that I’m very eager to revise right away. But that can make it harder to get the story down. There’s a quotation from Judy Blume that I love about how first drafts are just awful, and I feel exactly the same way. 

The first draft is a skeleton….just bare bones. The rest of the story comes later with revising.

Judy Blume

Do you write your book in order, or skip around when you figure out how a scene or plot line is going to work?

I write my book in order. I tried to write out of order once and it went very poor me. Some writers are plotters and some are pantsers. I’m right in the middle – really more of plantser. When I write, I often see the story playing out in my head like it’s a movie. It’s always in order, but sometimes it’s a struggle to keep up. 

In your upcoming book Drew Leclair Gets a Clue what moment resonated with you the most?

In the book, Drew has somebody make an embarrassing post about her on Instagram. In many ways this inspired the whole plot due to my own nerves about social media. I’ve always been a person who would rather observe the people around me rather than have those people watching me. And I wanted to bottle what that would feel like to a 12 year old girl who also doesn’t want to be seen. 

How did you come up with/what was your inspiration for Drew’s Story?

I’ve always been fascinated by True Crime and I even got my bachelor’s in Sociolgy/Criminology because I wanted to be a Criminal Profiler. While that did not happen, and I ended up in libraries, it made me wonder about a young girl like I was who was interested in the same thing. Like my main character, I was bullied as a kid and I loved the idea of the kid profiling the bullies at her school. 

Since you were bullied as a kid, do you have any advice for middle grade readers who are dealing with bullies now?

In the book, Drew has a 3-step bully remedy. I would absolutely suggest following it. My favorite point is to take whatever they’re saying to you, and make it seem like no big deal. For example, if somebody says “you’re ugly” you could say “hm, I didn’t brush my hair this morning. Thanks for the feedback, I’ll work on it!” Much like sharks, bullies smell blood in the water, they won’t keep coming after you if you don’t appear affected by it. But ultimately, if a bully simply won’t stop, I would suggest telling an adult you trust as soon as possible. 

Are there any parts of your book that feel autobiographical?

There’s a lot of Drew in me. For example, my whole family is also fascinated by true crime. In the book, it’s just her dad, but I must point out that my mother is much nicer than Drew’s mother. Like I said before I was also bullied as a kid. I also share the same chronic illnesses with Drew and am also Bisexual. In a way I was trying to write a character who was a lot like me at that age, but who has a lot more confidence. 

Do you feel like any of your characters are partially/fully based on people in your life?

Drew’s best friend Shray stuck with her from kindergarten through years of bullying. I also had a best friend who was loyal to me, almost to a fault. The character of Drew’s dad, Sam Leclair, is loosely based on my own dad. Like Drew and Sam, we would regularly, get a baguette, some olive oil and watch some Murder Mysteries. 

Where/what is your favorite setting to write in? Any specific foods or background noise?

I like to write in a comfortable chair with a hot caffinated beverage. Those are really my only needs. 

Where is your favorite place to read a book?

Oh, that’s a good question. I think my favorite spot is curled up on the couch with a blanket. Probably also with a hot caffeine beverage. Perhaps the reason for that is I’m still in the mentality that I’m writing so that I can read.  

What author or book series do you feel inspired you or influenced you the most in your writing style?

I think Meg Cabot’s the Princess Diaries inspired me the most. Thats because she writes secondary characters so richly, in a way that I really love to read. She also infuses humor into every one of her series. To me, a book has to be at least a little bit funny for me to keep reading. 

Are there any Easter Eggs in your book readers should look out for?

Yes. Jervis Bharwal. I have no additional information. 

What Drew you to writing a mystery book? Is that your preferred genre or do you wish you could write something else?

I think I’ve always loved mysteries. The story I wrote at age 6 was a mystery that I made into a series. I devoured Nancy Drew as a kid, and she is Drew’s namesake. While I think mystery is my primary genre, I would also love to write contemporary someday. 

If you could have people know one random fact about you, what would it be?

For a long time I thought the authors Stan and Jan Berenstain, authors of the Berenstain bears were actually bears. I thought they spoke to an authentic bear perspective. Which shows you how much I know about Bears.  

Other than writing or reading, what is your favorite pastime?

Any opportunity to be in the water. When I’m in the water I find I get my best ideas on what to do next in my books.

Any plans for a Drew Book 2?

I certainly hope so. I feel like I have so many more Drew stories to tell.

Thanks Katryn for indulging me with this long deluge of questions! Find Drew anywhere books are sold!

**Disclaimer** Katryn Bury is in fact related to me, so my connection is partially biased. However, that doesn’t change the fact this book is amazing, and I’m so happy that the world can meet Drew, Shray, and Trissa!

Book Reviews

Blogmas Day 5: Top 5 Books from 2021

So, full disclosure, only 3 out of these 5 books actually came out in 2021. Two of them came out in 2019, but I didn’t actually read either until this year. So that still counts right?

I really loved all of these books. I’m realizing now that I only gave A Court of Silver Flames a 4/5, but that was because of some side stuff in the book that pissed me off, whereas I loved the book as a whole. Aurora’s End I just read in the last month and it was the perfect end to a beloved trilogy. Chain of Iron reminded me why I try to stick to my rule of not reading trilogies as they come out, only when they’re done. Did I do that with Cass’s Last Hours trilogy? Of course not! So now I’m stuck waiting some more for Chain of Thorns.

A Curse so Dark and Lovely was one where I did stick to my rule, and binged the whole trilogy in about 2 or 3 days when on vacation in the woods. In a way, that book represents the whole trilogy. But if I had to choose just one, it would be the first one. And Supernova was the last book in it’s trilogy, but I didn’t get around to reading it until earlier this year. The second book in the series was a little more of a slog to get through for some reason, but I LOVED Supernova.

What were ya’ll’s favorite books of 2021?? Any of them match mine?

Book Reviews

Blogmas Day 4: The Festive Christmas Book Tag

Hi Everyone! It’s the 4th day of Blogmas over here in Marenville. And what better way than to celebrate by going a tag that I spend way too much time making perfect? Right?! Anyway, I saw this tag over on Anotherbookworm’s blog and thought I’d do it too 🙂 The tag originally comes from Booktuber GirlReading. Without further ado, the Festive Christmas Book Tag!

A fictional family you would like to spend Christmas dinner with?

Depends on if you mean blood family or found family. And my two choices could not differ any more than they do. If it’s blood family I’d want to have Christmas dinner with the Bennett family from Pride and Prejudice. I feel like I would enjoy the banter so much. If it’s a found family I would totally have dinner with the Inner Circle from ACOMAF/ACOWAR/ACOSF. Not only would I get to drool over the Bat Boys, but I feel like it would be highly entertaining.

A bookish item you would like to receive as a gift

Legit pretty much anything from Storiarts. I have like 4 sets of their wrist gloves, a blanket, a couple scarves, a makeup bag. Really anything from there would make me happy. I guess currently I’d love these Sleepy Hollow gloves.

A fictional character you think would make a perfect Christmas elf

I kind of think Drew Leclair from Drew Leclair Gets a Clue would make a fantastic Christmas Elf. She both knows how to keep a secret and, with her penchant for profiling people, she would be fantastic at figuring out the literal perfect gift for those around her.

A book or series you love so much, you want everyone to find it under their Christmas tree this year so they can read it and love it too

I will literally gift anyone a Nancy Drew book. Any Nancy Drew book will do. If I can get someone, young or old, into Nancy Drew that wasn’t into the series before, I will consider my life a success. Can you tell that ND is one of my all time favorite series?

Bah Humbug. A book or fictional character you’ve been disappointed in and should be put on the naughty list.

Grace Blackthorn. In some ways girl I get what you’ve been through, but you also annoy me and a lot of your choices were your own.

Grace Blackthorn by Charlie Bowater

A book or a fictional character you think deserves more love and appreciation and deserve to be put on the nice list.

Iko from Cinder. Talk about a fierce friend, and a hilarious one to boot. I love Iko so much. I want to be her friend. I want to go on crazy adventures with her.

Red, Gold, and Green. A book cover that has a wonderfully Christmasy feel to it.

This book is on my TBR this month. And now that I’m thinking about it’s the only Chrismasy or Holiday-ey book on my TBR. I wont lie, part of the reason I was drawn to it was the cover making me happy.

Book Reviews

When You Get the Chance – Emma Lord

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I wish more than anything I could ask him something now. I was prepared to lose him, maybe. But I wasn’t prepared for what happens after the losing.

-Emma Lord, When You Get the Chance

Well, life hits sometimes, and I haven’t posted a blog/review in just over a year. I find it hilarious though that my last post from October 23, 2020 was a review of Emma Lord’s You Have a Match, and my first review back is of Emma Lord’s When You Get the Chance! I swear, I didn’t plan it that way. I didn’t even realize it until just now when I opened up wordpress, inspired to write a blog again! It’s good to be back! Now, you aren’t really here for me, you’re here to read about Emma Lord’s newest upcoming book!

Millie (short for Camille, although easily could be equated to Millie from Thoroughly Modern Millie) is a musical theatre nerd in the extreme. It’s good that she lives in New York because she would lost in a small town in the middle of nowhere. We follow her navigating through trying to get her single parent father to let her go away to a musical theatre pre-college, essentially skipping her senior year of high school. When he inevitably says no, her solution is to ask her mother to convince HER to let her go. Only problem, she’s never met her mother. She was dropped off by her mom on her dad’s doorstep when she was an infant, and Millie has been raised by him and his sister, Heather. When Millie discovers that there are 3 potential women who could be her mom living in the city, she takes matters into her own hands. The antics ensue from there.

One thing I loved about this premise, is how much Millie identifies that her situation is reminiscent of Mamma Mia. So far as she and her best friend Teddy, begin calling it her Millie Mia. This book is completely filled with an abundance of musical theatre references (which some may think are too much, but as a musical theatre nerd, I LOVED). And the relationships between Millie and all her supporting cast (hah hah) were very well developed. From her best friend across the hall Teddy, to her arch-nemesis Oliver, to her potential younger half-sister Chloe, her aunt Heather, and to her father, my personal favorite, Cooper. Each relationship feels fully fleshed out and has backstory. And I love how you learn about each of the characters in their lives OUTSIDE of Millie.

One of the biggest things this book also solidified for me. I may read YA books 95% of the time, but I’m in my mid 30s. Do I still fall for the clear love interest? Nope, I’m falling for the single dad every time.

All in all, I loved this book so much. Easy 5/5 from me for this book. My only little nitpicky issue, is that, throughout the whole book, “theatre” is spelled “theater.” Small gripe, but that’s just me. I had to get over it.

Book Particulars:

  • Page Count: 320 Pages
  • Publisher: Wednesday Books
  • Edition Read – eBook, thanks to Wednesday Books and NetGalley for giving me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review!
  • Expected Release Date: January 4, 2022
  • Dates Read: November 24, 2021 – November 26, 2021

Book Synopsis:
Nothing will get in the way of Millie Price’s dream to become a Broadway star. Not her lovable but super-introverted dad, who after raising Millie alone, doesn’t want to watch her leave home to pursue her dream. Not her pesky and ongoing drama club rival, Oliver, who is the very definition of Simmering Romantic Tension. And not the “Millie Moods,” the feelings of intense emotion that threaten to overwhelm, always at maddeningly inconvenient times. Millie needs an ally. And when a left-open browser brings Millie to her dad’s embarrassingly moody LiveJournal from 2003, Millie knows just what to do. She’s going to find her mom.

There’s Steph, a still-aspiring stage actress and receptionist at a talent agency. There’s Farrah, ethereal dance teacher who clearly doesn’t have the two left feet Millie has. And Beth, the chipper and sweet stage enthusiast with an equally exuberant fifteen-year-old daughter (A possible sister?! This is getting out of hand). But how can you find a new part of your life and expect it to fit into your old one, without leaving any marks? And why is it that when you go looking for the past, it somehow keeps bringing you back to what you’ve had all along?

Book Reviews

You Have a Match by Emma Lord

Bookish Life Lesson, You Have a Match edition: If you’re getting a DNA test, know that it might reveal some skeletons in your family closet.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

But it isn’t the knowing that matters. It’s the feeling that does.

Emma Lord

It feels like I just came off the high of reading Tweet Cute by Emma Lord, so imagine my happiness when I was approved for an ARC of You Have a Match! Emma Lord has easily slipped into being a top tier YA Contemporary author, and any worries that she may have been a one-hit wonder, died out when I was reading this book.

We follow Abby Day (many a pun are made about her last name, it’s hilarious) and Savvy, the older sister she never knew she had. After being coerced into taking a DNA test by her besties Leo and Connie, Abby and Savvy’s worlds are thrown upside down in trying to figure out exactly why Savvy was put up for adoption a year and a half before Abby was born. It’s so wonderful to read this book as it unfolds. Mostly because, even though there is some romance between Abby and a certain adorable chef-in-training, the main focus of the story is on Abby and Savvy and their budding sisterly relationship. A relationship, btw, that isn’t all sunshine and rainbows despite just finding each other. They have all out fights and bickering matches that only sisters a year and a half apart could have. (Something I’m not that familiar with since my sister is 10 years older than me, we never fight, and she’s my bestie).

I particularly loved the Parent Trap-esque feel to the family dynamics as the mystery of Savvy’s adoption came further into the light. You quickly find yourself rooting for the 2 sets of parent’s to figure their shit out so they can all be one happy family. But don’t worry, if you are in for the romance, there is plenty of that too!

This book is easily recommendable for YA Fans, especially fans of Tweet Cute. I’ve already made a mental note to send a copy of it to my sister when it releases.

Book Particulars:

  • Page Count: 320 Pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
  • Edition Read – eBook, thanks to St. Martins, Wednesday Books, and NetGalley for giving me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review!
  • Release Date: January 25, 2021
  • Dates Read: October 20th – October 22nd

Book Synopsis:
When Abby signs up for a DNA service, it’s mainly to give her friend and secret love interest, Leo, a nudge. After all, she knows who she is already: Avid photographer. Injury-prone tree climber. Best friend to Leo and Connie…although ever since the B.E.I. (Big Embarrassing Incident) with Leo, things have been awkward on that front.

But she didn’t know she’s a younger sister.

When the DNA service reveals Abby has a secret sister, shimmery-haired Instagram star Savannah Tully, it’s hard to believe they’re from the same planet, never mind the same parents—especially considering Savannah, queen of green smoothies, is only a year and a half older than Abby herself.

The logical course of action? Meet up at summer camp (obviously) and figure out why Abby’s parents gave Savvy up for adoption. But there are complications: Savvy is a rigid rule-follower and total narc. Leo is the camp’s co-chef, putting Abby’s growing feelings for him on blast. And her parents have a secret that threatens to unravel everything.

But part of life is showing up, leaning in, and learning to fit all your awkward pieces together. Because sometimes, the hardest things can also be the best ones.